By Dovi Scheiner
on a Thursday night in Yerushalayim, I was ordering a slice of pizza, when I
overheard someone inviting others to join in a farbrengen. I
glanced about in an attempt to identify my fellow Chassid. I was surprised to
find my gaze returned by a teenage boy dressed in a tight black shirt and
sporting a spiked hairstyle. Understanding that this was perhaps a friend of
Lubavitch, with the term "farbrengen" only employed to grab my
attention, I smiled at the boy.
in Hebrew, the boy struck up a conversation. He had a lot of questions.
I replied, I am a Chabadnik... I had seen the Rebbe up close... I have received
a dollar from the Rebbe’s hand…
boy now wanted to know if I was carrying the Rebbe’s dollar on my person.
you give it to me?" He wanted to know.
only you could have seen the look in his eye as he made this request; he so
wished to own the Rebbe’s dollar.
you probably know, for many years, every Sunday, the Rebbe would distribute
single dollar bills to the general public. At the advanced age of eighty, even
ninety, the Rebbe stood for many hours at a time as all kinds of people from all
kinds of places cued up to receive his dollar and blessing.
was the Rebbe’s desire to meet every person, to greet them and to bless them.
The dollar was meant for charity. Typically, however, the recipient would hold
on to the given dollar, contributing another to charity in its place.
showed my Israeli friend, where, near the top of the bill, I had penned my
Hebrew name, as well as the date on which I had received this slip of currency
from the Rebbe’s holy hand.
with the dollar to be his, he scrawled his own name alongside mine, as well as
the date on which he had come to possess this special bill.
leaving the store, I related to the boy, anecdotally, a common practice amongst
dollar distribution Sundays’, on the sidewalk before 770, Lubavitch World
Headquarters, enterprising vendors set up booths catering to the visiting
crowds. More than one such booth featured a laminating machine.
procedure was simple. With the owners’ name and the particular date jotted
atop the bill, a miniature color photo of the Rebbe would be placed alongside
the greenish image of George Washington. Fitted between two slim slips of
plastic, the dollar carefully made its way through the heated rolling irons of
the laminating machine. By this method, a spiritual souvenir was forever
with my dollar had been a painful yet natural decision. Years ago the Rebbe had
looked me in the eye and blessed me while handing me that precious dollar bill,
so how could I ever consider giving it up?
as the Israeli boy asked for my dollar, I could see him looking through me,
almost past me, back into the very eyes of the Rebbe himself. It was now through
me that the Rebbe chose to give the dollar away.
few days later I was back for more pizza. It turned out that the Israeli boy was
friendly with the owner, and he too was in the store again. Spotting me, he
rushed over, wildly waving a dollar bill.
was my own dollar bill. Once folded in four and tucked within my wallet, it now
stood frozen firm, laminated. Wedged in alongside the greenish sketch of our
American founding father was a miniature photograph of the Rebbe.
I reviewed the enhancements to my dollar bill, a man dressed in traditional garb
and apparently affiliated with a Chassidic sect entered the pizza shop.
the dollar from my hand the Israeli boy hurried over to the stranger, gleefully
displaying his prize. "This dollar is from the Lubavitcher Rebbe," the
Chassid, somewhat befuddled by a display of righteous emotion issuing forth from
this outwardly modern young male, decided to probe the boys’ seeming
what value is this dollar to you?" the Chassid wanted to know.
the value in the world," the boy replied. "It is a Segula!"
a spiritual good omen or charm.
you sell me your Segula? " the Chassid asked the boy.
came the even response.
Chassid was curious to know if the boy would be willing to part with his prize
for a million dollars. The boy maintained that there would be no deals.
the Chassid wondered, "what better Segula can there be than a
million dollars in the bank?"
I refuse your offer of a million dollars," the boy insisted, "the
Rebbe will find a way to grant me an even greater reward!"
this low-key debate winding down, the young boy worried that he might have
agitated the distinguished looking customer. "If I’ve offended you in
some way," the boy offered, "I apologize."
you’ve said requires forgiving," the Chassid graciously informed the
Israeli teenager. "Besides," he added honestly, "I do believe I’m
jealous of you!"